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Recycled denim blooms into fabric art

Swatches | July 1, 2021 | By:

Ian Berry repurposes denim he sources from waste, utilizing various cuts, textures and shades of blue to bring to life his views of the world through eye-catching installations, including this one for the San Francisco Flower Mart. Photos: Lawrence Anderson Productions.

While the iconic San Francisco Flower Mart is preparing for a move to a new location, Kilroy Realty created an Innovation Center to showcase the Flower Mart’s history. Visitors might expect to be greeted with a hanging trellis of flowers, leaves and vines. But the latest installation by British artist Ian Berry is no ordinary arrangement. Each bloom comes not from a live plant but from pieces cut from upcycled jeans and denim. 

This piece was commissioned by Kilroy Realty to pay homage to the blue-collar jobs being preserved by the new San Francisco Flower Mart and to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability: The denim in the piece was sourced from Cone Denim LLC’s White Oak plant in Greensboro, N.C., which was the last selvedge denim manufacturer producing at scale in the U.S. at the time it closed in 2017.   

Denim has been Berry’s medium for more than 15 years, and this piece in particular marries symbolism with history. Blue jeans were invented in San Francisco in the 1870s, and the Flower Mart was established in the same era. 

“Since the birth of blue jeans by Levi Strauss & Co. in 1873, denim and Levi’s® have been a foundational part of San Francisco’s history, culture and political landscape,” says Tracey Panek, Levi Strauss & Co. historian. “Denim constituted the working clothes for the builders who erected the city and the engineers who raised its bridges; it was the canvas of self-expression for hippies, the uniform for gay activists and the business attire of today’s entrepreneurs. Denim will continue to be the common thread in San Francisco’s future fabric, and that’s why it is great to see it acknowledged in this amazing installation by Ian Berry.”

Once the Flower Mart’s new development is complete, the installation will move to its permanent location. For more, visit

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